Madeline Walsh and Lucinda Smith

Serious Incident Response Scheme commencing 1 April 2021

Madeline Walsh and Lucinda Smith

March 31, 2021

Aged Care Legislation Updates Retirement Villages

The Serious Incident Response Scheme (the SIRS) commences on 1 April 2021, bringing into effect new requirements for incident reporting and incident management systems. The requirements apply to all providers who provide care and services to recipients in residential care or flexible care which is provided in a residential setting (Residential Care Providers).

SIRS update

Since our last update on the SIRS on 4 February 2021:

  • the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Serious Incident Response Scheme and Other Measures) Act 2021 (the SIRS Act) was assented to on 1 March 2021, giving effect to amendments to the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018;
  • the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Serious Incident Response Scheme) Instrument 2021 (the SIRS Instrument) was made on 9 March 2021, giving effect to amendments to a number of pieces of subordinate legislation, including the Quality of Care Principles 2014 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules 2018;
  • the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) has released a range of guidance material for providers, which is available online via the Commission’s website; and
  • the Department of Health has made the SIRS tile on the My Aged Care Provider Portal available for providers to preview ahead of commencement of the SIRS.

What happens next?

The SIRS commences on 1 April 2021. From this date, Residential Care Providers must:

  • have in place an effective incident management system that complies with the new legislative requirements;
  • report all ‘Priority 1’ incidents to the Commission within 24 hours of becoming aware of the incident, and to the police where there are reasonable grounds to do so.

From 1 October 2021, Residential Care Providers must report all ‘Priority 2’ incidents to the Commission within 30 days of becoming aware of the incident. Until these reporting requirements commence, Residential Care Providers must still keep records of these incidents.

Practical tips

With SIRS shortly commencing, it is timely for Residential Care Providers to:

  • review and update all policies and procedures (e.g. incident management and reporting and complaints management) to ensure compliance with the SIRS;
  • provide training for staff on:
    • identifying and responding to reportable incidents;
    • using systems and processes to record, manage and report incidents;
    • preventing and managing incidents;
  • review systems and processes to ensure effectiveness for identifying, recording, managing, resolving and reporting incidents;
  • review access to, and responsibility for, reporting via the SIRS tile on the My Aged Care Provider Portal;
  • review assurance and governance processes, for example:
    • reviewing and updating responsibility for compliance;
    • monitoring and seeking feedback regarding incident management and reporting;
    • reviewing self-assessment and auditing processes.

How can we help?

Thomson Geer has a range of SIRS services available, including pre-prepared templates, training material and tailored options to meet your individual requirements.

Our SIRS services include:

  • a detailed template SIRS policy covering all of the strict legal requirements along with an easy to follow, practical procedure;
  • training webinars setting out the new regulatory and reporting requirements from an operational and compliance perspective, tailored to different roles and responsibilities;
  • tailored services, including:
    • reviewing your existing incident management policy and assisting in developing linkages with the SIRS policy;
    • reviewing other existing policies or agreements impacted by the SIRS, for example complaints management, incident investigation, contractors and external health professionals;
    • reviewing processes/workflows for incident reporting and delegated authority for making of and escalation of reports;
    • reviewing record keeping processes and associated policies
    • reviewing policies associated with disclosure protections e.g. whistleblower policies.

Please contact us to discuss how we can help you to implement new processes before the SIRS commences on 1 April.

Authors

Lucinda Smith | Partner | +61 2 9020 5748 | lsmith@tglaw.com.au

Madeline Walsh | Partner | +61 7 3338 7906 | mwalsh@tglaw.com.au